Keep voter data safe
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, are right to take firm stances on one of their responsibilities, protecting voters’ privacy.
Members of a federal commission have sent state election officers letters seeking both input on the voting process and data on voters. Specifically, the commission’s letter seeks voters’ names, addresses, birth dates, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, party affiliations, elections they cast ballots in since 2006, criminal backgrounds, military status and other information.
Obviously, Cuomo and Schneiderman shouldn’t hand all of that data over to the commission. As critics of the request have pointed out, if every state furnished all the information, it could result in the creation of a database that would be the dream of every identity thief or meddling foreign power in the world.
Given the government’s record on data security, there is no reason to be confident this database could be kept confidential. Our voting system’s decentralization keeps hackers at bay. That must remain.
Some say criticism of the letter is overblown because members of the commission specified they want only data available publicly under the laws of the states. In other words, the panel is seeking only information anyone can get already.
We’re not sure that information should be as available as it is, but that liability belongs to state and local government. We don’t see cause for the federal government to make hackers’ job easier by creating a gold mine of voter data.
Cuomo and Schneiderman are doing the right thing in safeguarding the privacy of millions of New York voters.